Program Overview

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Whistleblower Program, created by the Dodd-Frank Act, provides monetary incentives to individuals who come forward to report possible violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. It also provides anti-retaliation protections for whistleblowers. The CFTC’s Whistleblower Office administers the program.

Under the Whistleblower Program:

  • The CFTC pays monetary awards to eligible whistleblowers who voluntarily provide the CFTC with original information about violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) that leads the CFTC to bring a successful enforcement action resulting in monetary sanctions exceeding $1,000,000.
  • The CFTC pays monetary awards to eligible whistleblowers whose information leads to the successful enforcement of a Related Action brought by another governmental entity and certain other entities that is based on original information voluntarily submitted by a whistleblower to the CFTC that led to the successful enforcement of an action brought by the CFTC.
  • The total amount of an award for an eligible enforcement action is between 10% and 30% of the amount of monetary sanctions collected in the CFTC's enforcement action or a Related Action. If multiple whistleblowers are granted awards in an action, the total award amount is still limited to between 10% and 30% of the amount of the monetary sanctions collected.
  • Whistleblowers have certain protections regarding confidentiality of their identity.
  • Employers may not take any action to impede would-be whistleblowers from communicating directly with the Commission’s staff about possible violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), including by enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement or predispute arbitration agreement with respect to such communications. Nor may employers retaliate against whistleblowers for reporting violations of the CEA—as through discharge, demotion, suspension, threats, harassment, direct or indirect, or any other discrimination against a whistleblower in the terms and conditions of employment because of any lawful act done by the whistleblower.
  • A whistleblower who has been retaliated against has the right to sue an employer in federal court. In addition, the CFTC has authority to enforce the anti-retaliation provisions of the CEA by bringing an enforcement action or proceeding against an offending employer.
  • Your information could lead the Commission to open a new investigation, re-open a closed investigation, or pursue a new line of inquiry in an ongoing investigation. This could result in a successful enforcement action, and you may be eligible for an award if your information matches certain criteria. More information is available under Submit a Tip.
  • Submitting a tip alone will not be sufficient to obtain an award. In order to be considered for an award, a whistleblower must also submit an award application when the Whistleblower Office releases a Notice of Covered Action, or when a judgment is issued in a Related Action.

History of the Whistleblower Program

The CFTC's Whistleblower Program was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act), which amended the CEA by adding a new Section 23, titled “Commodity Whistleblower Incentives and Protection.”

Section 23 of the CEA, along with the rules and regulations issued by the CFTC to implement the provisions of the section (the Whistleblower Rules - 17 C.F.R.pt.165), governs the Whistleblower Program and provides detailed procedures and requirements about the program and process for obtaining a whistleblower award. The Whistleblower Rules became effective in October 2011 and were amended in July 2017.

Related Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CFTC Whistleblower Program?

The Commission's whistleblower program was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, and it provides monetary awards to persons who voluntarily report violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) if the information leads the Commission to bring an action, or if the information significantly contributes to the success of a Commission action, that results in more than $1 million in monetary sanctions. The Commission can also pay awards based on monetary sanctions collected by other authorities in actions that are related to a successful CFTC action and are based on information provided by a CFTC whistleblower. The Dodd-Frank whistleblower provisions also prohibit any action taken to impede an individual from communicating directly with the Commission's staff about a possible violation of the CEA, as well as retaliation by employers against employees who come forward with information about possible violations. The CFTC has authority under the CEA to enforce the anti-retaliation provisions against offending employers. The Dodd-Frank whistleblower provisions also include certain confidentiality protections to whistleblowers.

How does the CFTC Whistleblower Program differ from that of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)?

Following the amendments to the whistleblower rules that became effective July 31, 2017, the CFTC’s award claims review process largely mirrors that of the SEC's Whistleblower Program. For example, as at the SEC, the CFTC's Claims Review Staff has responsibility for issuing a Preliminary Determination, setting forth a preliminary assessment as to whether an award claim should be granted or denied. As under the SEC's program, a whistleblower has an opportunity to request to view the record and contest the Preliminary Determination before the Commission issues a Final Determination. Rules 165.7(e)-(l); 165.15(a)(2)

How does someone become eligible for an award?

To be eligible for a whistleblower award, an individual (or group of individuals) must first submit a Form TCR – Tip, Complaint, or Referral. The Form TCR may be submitted electronically via the website, or by fax or mail.

What does it mean to provide information "voluntarily"?

To provide information voluntarily, you must give information to the Commission before the Commission sends you, your lawyer, or your employer a request, inquiry or demand for the information. You also cannot provide information to the Commission "voluntarily" if you have already received a request, inquiry, or demand from Congress, another regulatory or enforcement agency or a self-regulatory organization (such as the National Futures Association). On the other hand, if you provided information to any such organization before receiving a request, inquiry, or demand, your submission to the Commission will also be considered voluntary. Rule 165.2(o)

What is "original information"?

“Original information” is information not already known to the Commission that is derived from (i) your independent knowledge (information in your possession that is not generally known or available to the public), or (ii) your independent analysis (your examination and evaluation of information that may be publicly available but which reveals information that is not generally known). Also, if the Commission received the same information previously from someone else, your information will not be considered original information unless you can show that you were the "original source" of the information. Rule 165.2(k)-(l)

If you are not sure whether the information that you intend to submit falls within these categories, you should describe such information rather than produce it with your Form TCR.

Please note that, unless certain limited exceptions apply, "independent knowledge" does not include communications that are subject to the attorney-client privilege and information obtained in connection with the legal representation of a client. Rule 165.2(g)(2)-(3)

What rights do I have if my employer tries to stop me from providing a tip to the CFTC or retaliates against me after coming forward with information about a suspected violation?

Employers may not take any action to impede you from communicating directly with the Commission's staff about possible violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, including by enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement or predispute arbitration agreement with respect to such communications. Nor may employers discharge, demote, suspend, harass, or in any way discriminate against you because of any lawful act done by you in providing information to the Commission under the whistleblower program or assisting the Commission in any investigation or proceeding based on the information submitted. If you believe that your employer has wrongfully retaliated against you, you may bring a private action in federal court against your employer, within two years of the employer's retaliatory act. If you prevail, you may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, litigation costs, expert witness fees and attorney's fees. The CFTC also has authority under the CEA to bring an enforcement action against your employer for any retaliatory acts. Rules 165.19, 165.20; Whistleblower Rules, Appendix A

Other federal and state statutes may offer anti-retaliation protections in addition to those provided by the Commodity Exchange Act. If you have questions about these other statutes, please contact an attorney.

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